Monday, August 29, 2016

Tribute to mom

A drive to the river bottoms this Spring
This is a tough one to write. I've been dreading it but needing to write at the same time.

My mom passed away in early August at age 84.  She was a breast cancer survivor, but she couldn't win against lung cancer which she had been battling the past several years.

In April of this year she started at home hospice care, but because she was such a fighter we all thought death was far down the road.  It wasn't.  I'm sure mom knew that, but she didn't let on and continued to live her life fully until the end.  In fact the night before she died, she enjoyed a banana split with her grandsons Adam and Dane.

I hope I have a fraction of her fighter spirit.  When she had breast cancer, my dad also had non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  She cared for him through his chemo, and when he was finally finished with treatment, she then started her own radiation.

When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she went through chemo which resulted in being hospitalized several times. She was on oxygen all the time over the past 8 months and often mumbled under her breath when the oxygen tube would get caught on a chair or the couch.

When her leg was bothering her from vascular problems, she would use a cane or walker, and she was increasingly unhappy that she couldn't get outside to get the mail or look at her flowers.

Making wreaths together

And every time I visited this Spring there was another project to do.  She wanted new curtains for the bathrooms and basement windows, and I would send her fabric options on her iPad so she could select the color and pattern she wanted.  I added rug binding to latch hook rugs that she made and hemmed up a new comforter that fit her hospital bed.

She wanted a new bush in front of the house, and Mike and I took her to the neighboring town of Newburgh so she could pick out the exact bush at the nursery.  She bought a new couch this Spring, and we were always changing out her curtains or artwork.

I know she always wanted things to look good, and I suspect this was one of the few things still in her control in her final months and weeks.

Mom's cross stitch project!
The hospice nurse was a godsend. She was caring, compassionate and a straight shooter, and mom really liked her.  She drained fluid from mom's lungs a couple of times a week, she helped manage mom's meds and answered countless medical questions. And she was there when mom passed away, along with my sister Angie, a cousin and neighbor.

Over the past few years of watching her fight lung cancer, I thought I was mentally preparing for her passing.  But you never really prepare for the day when your mom is gone.  There is a quote I saw shortly before mom died,  "My mother taught me everything except, how to live without her."  That is so true.

I still want to call her every night and talk about my day and how she is doing. When I fell last week and hurt my ankle, she is the first person I wanted to call.  When I walk through her house and remember her at the kitchen table, I am sad. I cry at the oddest of times when I remember something she said or did.  I can't bring myself to watch Shark Tank because it was one of her favorite shows. And what will The Voice be like this year without she and I discussing the contestants and coaches?

And now we are beginning to deal with her house and the contents.  My siblings and I spent several days last week working on this. Although it went well, tears lurked around every corner.  And if one person started to cry, the waterworks were on for everyone.  But we also had some great family time together, and somehow I think she and Dad were smiling down on us.

And yet I am so happy that she is with God and no longer suffering.  Several months ago I had a dream that my dad told me he was ready for her, and he was really happy in heaven.   I know they are together again, probably drinking a beer, playing cards and visiting with their own parents and siblings. And I can't be sad about that.

Giving Mike a noogie
Now she lives on in the spirits of the lives she touched.  She influences so many things in me: my work ethic, my sense of humor and sarcasm, my overachiever attitude, my sensitive side, my (overly) critical nature, my green thumb, my love of family, my crafty nature (I mean my love of crafts), and my spiritual side.

And her words still echo in my head "You and Mike are retired. You need to slow down."  "You are doing too much. You need to relax more." And these haunted me last week when I hurt my ankle when were repairing the deck.  I had a mental image that she was shaking her head.

So the days go by, and I keep expecting this to get easier.  When I have a couple of days without tears, I think it's getting better.  And I find myself praying more often, and I know I'm  extra clingy with Mike and my siblings and friends.  And somehow that's the legacy she left all of us...our faith and the strength of family.  And what a gift it is!  Thanks mom and dad!  Have a beer for me...

Family picture

Outtake from family picture!
Take care,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Flowers, fireworks and 4th of July

It's that time of year when colors abound!  Brilliant flowers are popping everywhere along with the fireworks.

Here's my annual expose' on summer flowers(most of them in my own back yard)...

We love our "Life is Good" t-shirts!
For the first time in many years, Mike and I stayed in town for the 4th of July.  It was a crummy, rainy weekend, but we still had fun. We headed to  Nashville, Indiana for some shopping and lunch at a favorite pizza place.

Next we headed to the outlet mall with thousands of other like-minded people who were looking for an activity they could do in the rain.

Hey, shopping is an American tradition, isn't it!?

Normally we watch our town's fireworks from our front yard, but this year Mike wanted to go to our town park and enjoy the fireworks firsthand.  We gathered up lawn chairs and hiked to the park where we enjoyed "fair food" and a ride on the Ferris wheel.
Enjoying the Ferris wheel with Mike!
View of the midway from the Ferris wheel

As darkness settled in, we set up our lawn chairs in the park and enjoyed the show.  The fireworks were right overhead and absolutely stunning.  Ok, and a bit scary as debris rained down on my head.

Mike, Diane, Elena and Atanas
We enjoyed a lovely evening with friends Elena and Atanas at our local Irish Pub.  Nothing like sitting outside on a cool summer evening and catching up on life.

Mike, Melanie, Diane and Chuck

Last Saturday we spent the afternoon visiting with Chuck and Melanie in Broad ripple.  A couple of pitchers of margaritas was a perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.

And of course it is an unwritten law that you must enjoy ice cream in the summer! One of our favorite places is the "Frost Bite"!  Last week Mike introduced me to the "Big Berry"in a small town near here.  Gotta love these names!

And as you might expect, we always find weird sights in everyday life...

We drove by the "Eat Mor Chicken" cow today.  One minute he was standing by the side of the road...

And then he was being led away...

Did he violate some company policy?  In trouble with the law?  Or merely couldn't see in his costume?

Like everyone, I've been very troubled by the violence and unrest this past week.  If only we could do what is inscribed over this church doorway...

Take care, and to quote Ellen: "Be kind to one another".

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Is age 60 always this busy?

Climbing the stop sign.  Seems appropriate.  (Real Simple Magazine)
Over the past couple of months, I haven't had time to write this blog. I know that sounds crazy, but since turning 60 in April, life has been crazy fast, like its' on steroids.  In fact I thought about discontinuing the blog, but here I am again writing about this busy retirement life.

If I ever thought retirement would be relaxing, I was dead wrong.  Most of the time I am wishing for a few days to relax.  Here's a quick look back at May and June...

Speedway, Indiana-home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
We love auto racing, and Indianapolis is the place to be in the month of May.  This year we attended the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the Indy 500.  This year was the 100th running of the Indy 500, and over 300,000 people attended the race! Our friends Gretchen and Craig joined us for race weekend, and we celebrated in style.
Tailgating with Gretchen and Craig
Enjoying Bloody Mary's before the race

June was concert month in Indy.  Over the past 2 weeks, we attended 2 concerts at Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville(north of Indy).  We joined Brian and Stacy for Bad Company and Joe Walsh concerts.  We did a little tailgating before the concert, and then we headed in for some amazing music.
Concert time with Brian and Stacy

Bad Company Stage

The next concert was Huey Lewis and the News and Jimmy Buffett.  You know, I've heard a lot of people talk about a Jimmy Buffett concert, but until I attended one in person, I really didn't get it.  Talk about a party scene.  People started arriving to the tailgate party about 12:30 PM though the concert didn't start until 7:00 PM.  We went with our friends Kevin and Kathy, and we set up a tent, the grill and lots of decorations.  It was a blast wandering around the parking lot visiting with people and enjoying a few libations along the way.

And the concerts were great.  The entire crowd stood for both concerts and sang along to both Huey Lewis and Jimmy Buffet songs.  I never saw so many beach balls in my life.  It was a wonderful evening, and though I'm not quite sure if I'll ever see myself as a "parrothead", I likely will jump at a chance to go to another Buffet concert.  This concert was billed as the "I don't know" concert, and the song lyric keeps floating through my head... "I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't know where I'm a gonna go when the volcano blows."
Tailgating with Kevin and Kathy

Party Atmosphere

Drinking games

Mom, Mike, Judy, Diane, Violet, Alice and Ron
We enjoyed a couple of visits to see mom and family during June.  We did some landscaping work trimming bushes and replacing a dead bush.  We enjoyed seeing Judy and Ron and Diane and the kids on one of these visits.

I enjoyed babysitting for my great-niece Violet for a couple of hours while her mom and sister went to the dentist.  We ran around the house a few times, dot painted and chalk painted.  We read books and shot water guns.  I never laughed so hard, and I have to admit I was totally exhausted after a mere two hours.

Mike and I enjoyed a wonderful day at the Talbot Street Art Festival where we found a beautiful copper wind spinner...

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with friends Garth and Chris at the Italian Festival.  Interesting processional by children of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Italian Fest with Chris and Garth

School children in processional

Elena and her friend Miley stopped over for a visit.  Miley was visiting from Bulgaria, and I had a great time learning about her life.  We were able to communicate primarily in English with a little help from Elena's translations.  We laughed like crazy proving once again that laughter is a universal language.
Elena and Miley
 Mike and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary at a wonderful new restaurant called Union 50.

Anniversary dinner

Union 50

We've been enjoying this very hot June by cooling off several times in our friends' pool.  Kevin and Kathy have this amazingly large pool, and there is nothing better on a very hot day...

And I took some time to make a denim tablecloth for our friend Stan.
Blue Belle testing the denim patches

So finally it's the last week of June, and we have a few days without plans.  Unbelievable!  Even Mike (the energizer bunny) is exhausted from 2 crazy busy months. We've enjoyed lots of great times with friends and family and house guests, but now it's time to breathe and unwind and simply do nothing.  I doubt if this nirvana lasts long, but for now, I'll enjoy it!

Take care and enjoy your week!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

If you have to turn 60...get free stuff!

Ok, I haven't been thrilled about turning 60.

When I was in my 50's, I would say I "retired early", and everyone would comment that I looked so young.

So what happens when you say you are 60? Friends try to make you feel better by commiserating that they are in their 50's... Well, that doesn't really work!

So what did I do?  Act like an old person and get all the free stuff possible on my birthday...

Here's a list of my birthday"haul":

A free chocolate brownie dessert at Charbonos Restaurant

A free flan dessert at Delicia restaurant
Enjoying a fantastic birthday dinner at Delicia Restaurant

$10 "cash" at Kohl's (new towels)

$5 "cash" at Sullivan's Hardware(good until 5/31)

A free cookie at McAlister's

$15 bag of free bird seed at Wild Birds Unlimited

$5 off a purchase at Soma (ok, I am not showing a picture of panties)

And best of all...a coupon at Frazee Gardeens for 60 percent off one item (percent equal to your age.  Do you believe that?). And I bought the BIGGEST geranium I could find.  

And yes, I realize that I sound like an OLD PERSON.  

And if you are going to turn 60, you are compelled to party.  So Mike and I had a small party to celebrate our 6oth birthdays.  Great friends, good food, a few cocktails and beautiful weather added up to a perfect party...

Thanks Chris for this wonderful Strawberry Champagne Cheesecake!

Bryan, Chris, Jane and Garth 

John, Atanas, Mike and Elena 

And no, I don't really expect to ride off into the sunset quite yet.  Maybe I should be acting my age, whatever that means.  But really I plan to keep living day to day enjoying the people and beauty all around me! 

Hope you are having a great week!